Members of the School of Life Science’s MACE
Lab (Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation
Education and Ecophysiology).

Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson of UKZN’s MACE Lab – Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education and Ecophysiology – is working hard at implementing a project that will collect plastic and other debris from oceans and rivers.

MACE, situated in the School of Life Sciences on the Westville campus, has teamed up with the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) and the innovative environmental awareness and fundraiser team, Paddle for the Planet, to introduce the ground-breaking Booms, Bins and Bags project to help clean up the Umgeni River.

‘I did a presentation at uShaka Marine World recently about the impact of microplastics on the environment and the word spread that I was looking into developing a bin that we could use in order to catch plastic and all other debris,’ said Robertson-Andersson.

‘We were approached by Paddle for the Planet and along with DUCT we thought that it was a perfect fit in terms of all of us moving in the same direction trying to clean up our rivers and oceans.’

MACE and DUCT have been working closely with Paddle for the Planet in working out the regions in which they will set up these bins and Robertson-Andersson’s hope is that they will be able to withstand all varying weather conditions.

‘We do not receive all-year rainfall so we are going to have to monitor the bins closely in order to make sure they perform,’ she explained.

Monitoring the amounts of plastic and other pollutants is key to the project for Robertson-Andersson and her team so keeping a close eye on them and taking frequent recordings will be paramount to their research.

‘We will probably try and monitor the bins for about a year at first taking readings and checking them on a monthly basis.

‘This is going to also be part of a greater Community engagement project because it is important that the local people understand the threat that pollution in our rivers has on the wildlife of the region,’ she said.

It is hoped that the MACE and DUCT collaboration will serve as a pilot project for wider implementation of the Booms, Bins and Bags programme.

Nick Tatham